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Retiring to Bulgaria: getting it right

If you are considering retiring to Bulgaria, it might be the last move you will make, which is why it is so important to get everything right.

The Brits are big on buying an overseas property and moving there, with nearly 60% saying they'd like to leave their home country and live abroad, many of whom are planning on retirement. Bulgaria can offer a retirement (or early retirement) lifestyle which many Britons want.

Apart from cheap property and cheap cost of living, together with a less materialistic society, most cite better climate and a more traditional way of family life as their top reasons for choosing Bulgaria.

Living in Bulgaria, although not of retirement age, the traditional way of life and community spirit is high on my list. I would add to that the festivals which take place with national folklore costumes and a country where respect for one's elders is prevelant.

Cheaper homes also mean that many Britons can sell their UK property, buy in Bulgaria and still have a pretty penny in the bank. As this may be the last move made, it is so important that the dream does not turn into nightmare. Careful thought and serious planning are needed.

Consideration to lifestyle is first. What you enjoy now, you will most likely want to do in Bulgaria.

Many Bulgarian property buyers head for the cities, ski or sea. These may not be the best bet for retirement, particularly if budget is a consideration. Ski resorts and coastal locations can 'close' out of season. For a year round lifestyle, a home in a large village or small town has a lot to offer.

During summer with the hot weather, driving is easy but winter needs more thought. Small villages and hamlets can be inaccessible during winter months.

With amenities available on foot. It is all too easy to fall for a romantic isolated large property but don't choose a property where you have to drive for everything. You won't want to be isolated and away from people and shops. Explore what local transport is available for buses.

Many are tempted to buy a property larger than they actually need on the basis of friends or family visiting. With so many cheap bed and breakfasts around, you would be better off saving your money by buying a smaller property. This means you are not keeping just empty rooms, cleaning and heating them for odd visits. Properties with land or large gardens are fine as long as you can cope with the work involved.

Don't leave your money in Britain. The exchange rate doesn't look as if it will improve, so get it into euros orĀ  Bulgarian leva. Once done, you won't be paying commissions on exchanging it either.

Top tips
- when buying get independent professional legal advice
- investigate your pension fund and taxation
- when you arrive, introduce yourself to neighbours and your local mayor
- take part in local celebrations
- get to grips with the language so that you can undertand what is happening around you
- register with a doctor

With careful planning and preparation, retiring to Bulgaria is like being in heaven!